Clay County Substance-exposed Newborn Workgroup taking action against high statistics

In 2005, only a handful of babies were born in Clay County with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome — withdrawal from prenatal exposure to opioids. Thirteen years later, that statistic has increased more than 2,000 percent, driving local organizations to join an effort to ensure all babies are born with a healthy start.

Clay is one of five counties within the Healthy Start Coalition’s NEFL Substance-exposed Newborn Task Force that has created a workgroup to tackle the issue locally. All the workgroups then come together to put their action plans into the bigger picture of promoting healthy babies in Northeast Florida.

Clay County’s workgroup was established in June 2017 and is led by Lisa Rogers, program manager of the Healthy Start program at Florida Department of Health Clay County. Representatives from many organizations, invested in taking action against the issue, meet monthly at Orange Park  Medical Center.



In 2005, only six newborns were substance exposed. In 2016, that number rose to 138, a 2200 percent increase. In 2015, the Florida Department of Health released a report recognizing Clay County as the 10th county in the state with the highest rates of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – at a per capita rate higher than Duval County’s.


Their mission aims at combating those now high percentages, “As concerned citizens, we are committed to empowering future parents to have healthy, substance-free babies,” and their vision is “substance free moms for substance free babies.”

Since established, they’ve carried out their mission through:

Pre-Pregnancy Intervention Efforts ·         A public service announcement has been shared throughout different medias, including websites of stakeholders’ organizations

·         Molina Healthcare has given $300 to fund the creation and distribution of flyers and posters to display in schools and providers’/stakeholders’ offices

·         Prevention awareness campaigns have been implemented in different settings to reach women of childbearing age

Prenatal Screening Stakeholders are being trained on SBIRT and integrating it into their screenings for pregnant women, resource guides are provided to all prenatal clients
Testing at Birth Data’s been collected on hospital newborn testing procedures
Neonatal Services for Infants and Parents & Services Throughout Childhood and Adolescence Resource guides have been given to parents/caregivers of substance-exposed infants

For the next coming fiscal year, they will add to their action plan increasing pediatrician and community resources relationships and identifying pediatricians who specialize in substance-exposed newborns.

The group features active stakeholders who come together each month to discuss how we can work together to lower the rates of substance-exposed newborns and increase the opportunity for babies to have a healthy start: